New Ghost in the Shell Trailer hits!

Posted in Action Adventure, Anime, Fan Service, Movies on February 13th, 2017 by thelonegamer


Scarlett Johansson is The Major coming this March.

Ever since its announcement and subsequent casting of actress Scarlett Johansson, the live-action version of the anime Ghost in the Shell has been controversial. Of course there’d be hubbub over having an American in the role of a Japanese anime character named Motoko Kusanagi (I think they just call her The Major in the film). One would wonder though if a film starring a Japanese actress (Rinko Kikuchi perhaps? Maggie Q?) would be more successful with decidedly less star power. Hell, we don’t even know even with Miss Johansson that GITS will be a hit.

The second trailer shows off more previously-unseen footage along with the now-familiar scenes of The Major in her ‘naked’ bodysuit and the nightmare-fuel mecha geishas. But now there’s a bit more talking and some bits of the plot. While the film does share some scenes with the original film and manga (some, like the confrontation with the gunman at the waterway seem painstakingly-reproduced), the overall storyline seems to have been simplified a bit, or at least made with The Major more central to the story. It seems more of Kusanagi seeking her actual identity, rather than the more existential jargon in the anime. I guess it may take a bit of fixing to make the original’s concepts and musings about what corporates being human more easy to digest (the anime tended to be very long-winded in exposition). There’s Blade Runner-esque imagery, some cool action and a hot lady in a form-fitting bodystocking… what’s not to love?

Well, we’ll see if this is a hit or a hack this March. Ghost in the Shell also features Takeshi Kitano as Daisuke Aramaki and Pilou Asbæk as Batou.

Kingsglaive: The Lone Gamer’s Movie Review

Posted in Action Adventure, Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy XC, Game Advertising, Game to Movies, Game-related Events, Gaming, Movies, My Stuff on September 18th, 2016 by thelonegamer


Well, at least it’s much better than Spirits Within.

As the gaming world counts the weeks to the late November release of the long-in-development Final Fantasy XV, gamers all over have a wide selection of material to occupy their attention before the actual game hits. Of course there’s the anime OVA series, FFXV Brotherhood (nowhere near as good as FMA Brotherhood, I assure you), which is of course made to introduce us to the heroes of the game- Prince Noct of Lucis and his roadies. Kingsglaive, a fully-CG animated film, is another such prologue, though much more immediate to the events within the game.

As the opening seconds of the movie roll in with the familiar voice of Lena Heady (our most beloved mad queen of Westeros) giving narration, we are introduced to the big players- Lucis is the ‘peaceful kingdom of magic’ while opposite them is The Empire of Nifleheim, a militaristic nation powered by Magitek (ah, Magitek, we know you so well). The Empire of course is on the verge of total victory, with the capital city of Insomnia (really? A city is named after a sleeping disorder?) the only remaining bastion of Lucis’ control. After a flashback showing some tragic events that befall Lucis’ former ally, the country of Tenebrae, we get into the thick of action with the Kingsglaive.

The titular Kingsglaive are apparently Lucis’ main (or perhaps only) military force- not sure about how many, but there seem to be not many- certainly nowhere near a hundred strong. The Glaive are ‘mighty warriors’, all of whom are recruited from Lucis’ provinces (all of which are probably now under Empire control or attack) due to their ability to use magic. The magic they wield though comes from one source- the King of Lucis himself, King Regis (voiced by another GoT stalwart, Sean Bean). So who are the Glaive? They look kinda cool- very similar to Assassins from Assassins Creed, but in black and wielding one main weapon- a dagger or short blade which they use primarily to ‘Warp Strike’; as in, they throw the dagger and then can teleport to wherever the weapon goes. While it certainly LOOKS awesome, I find it highly impractical and sorta haphazard. I guess the Glaive are trained to be really good and accurate throwers, but come on- you’re limited by throwing range, the speed of the person’s arm, his accuracy, the fact that they can go wildly out of control (and many do in the course of the action) with a bad throw.

Anyway, in these couple of dozen or so fighters is Lucis’ main defense. What has the enemy got? Oh, aside from armies of certainly a lot more soldiers, both human and mechanical (armed with GUNS), they have Magitek war machines AND apparently controlled monsters (just like in the games!) which range from flying creeps and cannon fodder to larger beasts like a Cerberus (three-headed fire dog) and a smoky demon which also seems to be half mechanical. How a few guys with daggers is able to hold off such a force is beyond me. But well, somehow they do.

Or do they? At the moment of apparent defeat, the Empire withdraws, allowing the Kingsglaive to get a breather. Later on, the court of King Regis is visited by a strange visitor- the shabby but kinda cool-looking Ardyn Izunia, perhaps the first Final Fantasy villain ever to sport a fedora and what seems to be a beak on his right arm (really, WHAT THE HELL IS HE WEARING?). Ardyn brings an offer of peace- well, pretty much an armistice, which offers a stop to the war at the cost of Lucis surrendering all its territories save Insomnia itself. Oh, and the Prince must also marry the Princess Lunafreya, who has been an Imperial captive/ward all this time.

Of course, you just know that the Empire is up to no good, and from there it’s a nice build-up to the day of the treaty signing. In the meantime, we see ugly sides of Lucis, which utterly puzzle me. So the Kingsglaive are all recruited from non-residents of Insomnia… WHY are they regarded by Insomnians with an obvious racist disgust? They are DEFENDING YOU, IDIOTS. The Glaive themselves are not your picture of loyalty or unity either- of course, you have the gung-ho, fearless hero Nyx, his clumsy oaf of a best friend Libertus and the one hot girl, Crow. The rest are either faceless and unimportant or belligerent or smarmy. With their ranks thinned and dissent growing cracks in their resolve, in the Kingsglaive may lie the fate of Lucis as the Imperial plot soon unfolds.

First off, the movie is GORGEOUS. That much can be said readily. There’s a lot of detail in the characters, and its much improved from previous Final Fantasy films. Faces of many characters look great, and at least by this time we don’t really think uncanny valley that much any more. However, there seems to be a slight disjoint between lip syncing- or perhaps the mouths of characters don’t quite seem to jive with the words.

While the first half of the movie up to when the shit hits the fan, the movie is quite engaging. However, after a certain point and we head into an unwieldy final act, it all crumples into a mess of a pursuit/chase, and large scale “Giant Monster’ action and action that’s so zippy and flashy, it can only be described as anime. Things happen to characters that normal humans would not walk away from easily, betraying the CG nature of the actors and the world. And the action in the final battle, while pretty amazing, seems hollow, without weight and ultimately, unsatisfying.

But then, I guess Kingsglaive is not meant to satisfy. It’s here to set the stage- with the bad guys winning or on the upswing, while the heroes are- well, they’re not here. The real heroes are in the upcoming GAME, which you will need to play to get closure. I wonder though how closely they’ll keep this movie to the final game? In that way, I guess that while Kingsglaive has its faults, it was worth seeing and certainly has me stoked into kicking Imperial butt this November on my PS4.

Ghostbusters (2016): The Lone Gamer’s Review

Posted in Movies, My Stuff on July 17th, 2016 by thelonegamer

Perhaps never before has a film been so divisive and polarizing as this remake of the beloved classic flick it springs from. Online, many voices cry ‘FOUL!’ at the supposed disrespectful cash-grab from Sony, defended by SJW’s and feminists. I went into this wanting to see it for myself and decide for myself. I’ve seen reviews calling it horrible and not worth watching, while some rave, though most seem to agree it’s just an average comedy. Well, what do I think?

Ghostbusters (2016), directed by Paul Feig, is a reboot of the original 1984 film starring Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Ernie Hudson and the late Harold Ramis. This time, an all-female cast takes over- Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) play two former best friends and scientists who once shared dreams of investigating ghosts and paranormal phenomena, and have now reunited under less than friendly circumstances. Jillian Hostzmann (Kate McKinnon) is Abby’s assistant in her paranormal lab and an apparent mad inventor of ghost-extermination gear. Finally, joining the bunch along the way is streetwise Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones), a subway attendant who has a ghostly encounter of her own.

As the new team comes together to investigate a sudden rise in paranormal activity and ghost sightings, they soon make the disturbing discovery that someone is actively causing this rise in ghost sightings for some reason. Unfortunately, things get a bit more complicated when the city mayor (Andy Garcia) decides adamantly to keep things under wraps to prevent panic, even if it means discrediting the female heroes.

All right, for starters, I don’t think this new Ghostbusters is as terrible as some are making it out to be. I do think that there is a bit of emotional baggage or nostalgia for the first flick that causes a natural dislike for this new film. That said, the film, as a comedy, is pretty hit-and-miss. Many of the jokes, gags and self-deprecating humor don’t really hit well and seem to just pass by in the midst of dead air. I understand that the leads are all talented and very funny actresses and comediennes, but here I think they’re pretty much hamstrung with pretty bad writing, in terms of the humor. You have a fart joke, some jokes about the group’s hunky new male secretary Kevin (Chris Hemsworth) being as dumb as a doorknob- no exaggeration, this guy seems to only have enough brain power to qualify him as a sentient being.

There’s another bit that probably elicits a lot of the anger out there for the film, and its that pretty much every male character is either an asshole or a moron. That’s how males act, as feminists would like to think, I guess.

Plot holes abound and pacing problems make things just seem uneven and awkward, with little satisfying explanation. The Ghostbusters begin their company by just stealing what lab equipment they can carry from their former campus. Then in a bit they seem to have enough nuclear material and components to create a Q-Branch’s worth of proton-throwing laser weaponry. One moment, we see physical comedy moments as these ladies fumble about with the obviously dangerous weapons rather carelessly- then later we see them taking out ghosts (how is it suddenly that these proton packs graduate from being instruments that are simply used to lasso or temporarily snare ghosts to outright DESTROYING them?) in the street in an action scene that would do the Avengers proud. It doesn’t seem earned or logical- it all just happens because hey, we’re in the third act and the ghostbusters gotta look cool killing ghosts.

I guess the most interesting part of the movie are the ghostbusters themselves- instead of a squad of model gorgeous heroines, we get a more colorful group of comedic talent. Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy are the straight people; Kate McKinnon’s Hotzmann is so offbeat and just plain weird in her mannerisms I seem to get a hunch that she’s ad-libbing most of her stuff and just doing improv, and it sometimes works, sometimes… not. Finally, Leslie Jones’ ‘token’ streetwise girl with the inevitable “HELL NO!” mannerisms may irritate for being such a stereotypical cliche character, but in honesty, I didn’t find her at all annoying.

The best parts of the film for me are some of the creepier ghost encounters- the first ghost, just before the rather tasteless vomit gag was well done. There’s a sequence with mannequins which is genuinely creepy and hilarious at the same time. And the endgame with the girls going toe-to-toe with a possessed Kevin was pretty cool.

The movie works when it is about these female ghostbusters actually taking on ghosts, at least before it devolves into the light show laser tag brawl at the end- the investigation, the creeps and actual ghost trapping was fine. The comedy in the context of these situations is fine. It’s when the script tries to be funny outside these situations which makes things feel like a half-baked SNL skit.

Oh, and the cameos… well aside from Tywin Lannister AKA Charles Dance having a role as Erin’s boss, most of the cast of the original Ghostbusters appear- not as themselves, but as totally different people. Perhaps one can just think that this film is not meant to replace the original- it’s just a different take in a different world and time of this same story. Updated with stuff like Youtube comments and cellphones, but well, that’s to be expected.

I do think that this flick has been made a rallying point by Feminists and SJW’s, and in turn hardcore fans of the original film and some He-man Women-Hater Clubs have just muddled the issue even more. The fact is, this film won’t erase the well-loved and popular original. I doubt that it will be that much of a hot topic in a few month’s time, unless Sony insists of making this a franchise. It’s not a horrible film, and I certainly had a bit of fun while all the while being aware of all the plot holes, leaps in logic and uneven comedy. It’s a Ghostbusters live-action cartoon. It’s light and fluffy and in general, really just overblown but harmless, as easily burst like a possessed giant balloon.
I would not be averse to seeing this same cast donning the proton packs again in a future adventure… but only with a much, MUCH better script (at least one worthy of the name Zuul).

BEST TRAILER EVER? Suicide Squad Official Trailer Hits!

Posted in Comics, Movies, My Stuff on January 21st, 2016 by thelonegamer


Trailer Perfection.

Yesterday, the first (the SDCC video was a teaser) full trailer for DC Comics’ Suicide Squad hit, and it certainly has become a HIT. Not since the amazing trailer for Sylvester Stallone’s Cliffhanger have I seen a trailer so perfect.
This early, on the strength of this magnificently-edited spot, people are already speculating this flick to be the blockbuster comic book flick of the year. Set to the gloriously upbeat rock classic Bohemian Rhapsody, the trailer features a wealth of screentime for more members of the titular Squad (whereas the SDCC teaser focused more on Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, Will Smith’s Deadshot and Jared Leto’s Joker), showing characters Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc, The Enchantress, El Diablo, Katana, Slipknot and Rick Flag.

The spot doesn’t give away too much (unlike the now-infamous Superman V Batman X Wonder Woman spot), but gives us just enough action and teasingly mysterious bits to have us all gagging with giddiness. It’s still quite far away (August 2016) but hell, I think I can just keep watching this trailer forever. I just hope that the final movie is just as fun as this spot lets on. But hey, even if it isn’t… it’s already a riot.

Justice League: Gods and Monsters Chronicles is Live!

Posted in Action Adventure, Anime, Comics, Fan Service, Fantasy, Movies on June 9th, 2015 by thelonegamer


It’s Batman VS Harley Quinn in the first Gods and Monsters Chronicle.

In preparation for the release of the latest DC Animated Movie, Justice League: Gods and Monsters, Machinima will be posting several animated shorts- Gods and Monsters Chronicles- on Youtube. Each one will feature on one of the three iconic DC Superheroes- Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman- in their ‘new’ incarnations.

This week we see the new Bats in action- this isn’t your usual Billionaire with a Troubled Past- nope, THIS Batman is a bit more… feral. In fact, he’s an actual bloodsucking vampire. Which I guess makes him a perfect match for the action in this first Gods and Monsters Chronicle episode, ‘Twisted’. This 5-minute short throws Batman into a deadly fight with a much more brutal and murderous Harley Quinn.

Though the animation and art style is still pretty cartoony in the Bruce Timm style, it’s a couple of notches more gruesome than your usual TV fare, with some rather disturbing mementos found in Harley’s fridge, and corpses making up most of the scenery in her dank abode- heck, I think this Harley would make Hannibal Lecter cringe.

With action and a bit of fan service amped up in this debut episode, I am quite interested in seeing what lies in the rest of the Machinima eps, as well as the full Gods and Monsters feature flick. For now though, check out ‘Twisted’ for some bloody good Bat-on-Bad Girl action.

Mad Max Fury Road: The Lone Gamer Review

Posted in Action Adventure, Fantasy, Movies, My Stuff on May 19th, 2015 by thelonegamer


Love action? Cars? Post-apocalyptic action with cars? WATCH.

Last Sunday, I got to watch Mad Max: Fury Road, written and directed by the original himself, George Miller. Been intrigued and excited with this flick ever since the first trailer and now that I’ve watched it… Well.

As a bit of backstory, I’ve watched the second and third Mad Max flicks- I don’t believe I ever watched the first one. They’re cult-classics that have a degree of roughness to them, just like the lashed-together, haphazard vehicles, weapons and implements of this insane world.

We return to a perhaps familiar Post-Apocalyptic Australia where society has fallen, resources are scarce and warlords rule the wasteland. Enter Max Rockatansky, a wanderer and former cop with a heavy chip on his shoulder. Perhaps he is still the same character as previous films, but this time its Tom Hardy filling in his boots.

The grizzled road warrior has the foul fortune of being captured at the start of the film by the War Boys, the bald, white-skinned private army of Warlord Immorten Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, who coincidentally played Toe-Cutter in the previous Max films). Having O-Positive blood making him a universal donor, Max gets drafted into serving as a blood bag, or walking blood supply for one of the sick War boys, Nux (Nicholas Hoult).

We then see the personal kingdom Joe has made for himself, by virtue of him controlling a vast water source underground. Ruling with his army and deformed family members (Sons? Brothers?) serving as lieutenants, Joe has everything- farms producing greenery, water, women serving as virtual cows for Mother’s Milk (the food for the gods!) and an alliance with two other settlements providing crucial sources of gasoline and ammunition.

But his perfect world is suddenly rocked when he discovers that his most prized treasures- a quintet of beautiful women who serve as his Wives (or ‘Breeders’) have been stolen away from his vault, spirited off by Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), one of his most trusted field commanders. Immediately, Joe mobilizes every able soldier and running vehicle in his army to bring back his possessions, and there is where Fury Road really begins.

What can I say about this movie? This is Action, Car and Post Apocalyptic Car Action as you’ve never seen it. Just the sight of the MAD vehicles running in this film are worth the price of admission- this is Road Warrior Porn. From the central War Rig- which is the main stage of the movie for most of its running time- to the many freaks of machinery like a huge mobile ROCK CONCERT complete with a flame throwing guitar playing in front (an army needs music to roll by after all), this will blow your mind.

Director George Miller truly set himself free in this one- in no other installment do we see so much of the world he has cooked up in his twisted imagination. There is more substance to it, like the evil utopia Immorten Joe has fashioned for himself. Like the religion he espouses, making himself god while his War Boys scramble to die in his service for the promise of eternal life in Valhalla. It makes so much sense it’s… insane. There are truly disturbing sights in this flick, but thankfully it never dwells too much on the more gruesome things, nor is the violence ever gory or overly brutal.

But adding true impact to the action is that most of it is real, practical effects. True enough, there ARE CG moments (probably during one truly heinous sandstorm from hell) but a lot are real, with real machines (all the cars are real running machines) and real stuntmen making these sights possible.
And whoa, there are fights and battles ongoing for most of this flick. I may say that of all the Mad Max films, this one takes the cake in action- less talk, more crash and burn, but still amazingly has more than enough story and depth to the characters and events happening onscreen.

With performances solid throughout- kudos to a tough-as-steel Charlize for making Furiosa both superhuman and human in her debut- she is pretty much Max’s equal and partner in this film. Kinda funny that Miss Theron is so gorgeous that even bald, covered in grease and oil, missing an arm and bloodied, she’s STILL gorgeous. There’s certainly a story behind this character, and who knows- if fates are kind and we are lucky, we may see Mad Max: Furiousa down the road.

Also impressing is Nicholas Hoult, whose War Boy Nux has his own mini-saga within this saga. Overall acting is solid even in a flick that is more action than emoting.

Tom Hardy is readily likable as Max- an understated badass man who lets his actions speak more for him. Is he better than Mel Gibson? That’s really too much to ask for anyone, and no person in his right mind would venture to say so. Suffice to say he makes for a stoic and solid Road Warrior whom I would love to see more of in future Mad Max flicks.

I had an utter blast watching this flick- paradoxically so beautiful as it is grotesque. Filmed with rock-solid clarity and vivid color, this is one action film that is so easy to love because in its quest for Fury Road, it DELIVERS. Nine out of TEN. Watch this in a theater and have yourself A LOVELY DAY!!!

New Hitman: Agent 47 Trailer

Posted in Action Adventure, Game Advertising, Game to Movies, Game-related Events, Gaming, Movies on February 12th, 2015 by thelonegamer


Slick and videogame-esque. Perfect!

I have to admit, I kinda liked the first Hitman movie. Timothy Olyphant was an intense 47, and the lovely Olga Kurlyenko was a pleasure to see every second she was onscreen. But I guess there was something missing to it- a bit of stylish, visual panache that would give it a memorable punch. It also kinda gave off a B-movie vibe… but really, that doesn’t prevent me from keeping it on in the background if I catch it on cable.

Well, the new, upcoming film based on the franchise starring a bald, bar-coded assassin, Hitman: Agent 47 looks to fill in the special effects and visual slickness department. It seems to have everything from slow-mo gun-kata, big-budget hi-jinx and glossy high production destruction to spare. In this one, 47 is searching for the daughter of the man who started the ‘Agent Program’ which created him.

Hitman: Agent 47 stars Rupert Friend as Agent 47 and Zachary Quinto as John Smith, his on-screen adversary. The flick is set for release this coming August 2015.

Dead Fantasy’s Monty Oum Passes Away

Posted in Action Adventure, Dead or Alive, Fan Service, Fantasy, Fighting Games, Final Fantasy, Gadgets, Game to Movies, Game-related Events, Gaming, Movies on February 3rd, 2015 by thelonegamer


A Preview of Monty’s Dead Fantasy 8 at AKon22.

You may or may not have heard of the name Monty Oum, but if you surf the web a lot and watch anime, you may have seen some of the earlier work of this late web animator. He became known mostly for his cross-over Machinima videos, featuring characters from different franchises clashing together in battles you’d probably only see otherwise in fan fics or fanboy wet dreams- such as his first work, Haloid (bringing together Halo and Metroid) in 2007.


The Released episodes of the Dead Fantasy Series.

His most popular work is arguably the Dead Fantasy series, which threw together characters from the fighting game Dead or Alive against the heroes of Final Fantasy. It was all done using the actual models from the games, but with fight scenes and an eye for angles and dramatic effect that would do Hong Kong fight choreographers and anime directors proud. The Dead Fantasy series would go on for six episodes in the next few years, until Monty went into a prolonged hiatus, showing only brief previews of upcoming parts afterwards.
When Oum announced his employment with Rooster Teeth as a web series animator, his indie works were put on hold. Ten days ago, he was hospitalized and in a coma following a severe allergic reaction to a routine medical procedure. Despite all efforts including crowd-sourced funding to support him, Monty Oum passed away on Feb. 1, 2015. He was 33.

I don’t really know if the cool videos Monty created were art, but they were definitely entertainment and brought many a fanboy dreams to eye-opening reality. One can only imagine now if only he was given a chance to, at what he could have accomplished with his wonderful eye and imagination for action-fantasy. Thanks for the awesomeness, Monty.

Avengers: Age of Ultron Trailer 2

Posted in Action Adventure, Fan Service, Movies on January 13th, 2015 by thelonegamer


Things are heating up for May…

When the first Avengers: Age of Ultron hit some time ago, it just rocked our collective fanboy worlds. It was chilling, eerie and haunting with that unique spin of the Pinnochio song, and the first time we heard James Spader as Ultron was pretty awesome. The second trailer, just debuted, continues to whet our appetites for this surely epic second itineration of Marvel’s premier superhero group film.
I’m curious to see how it reaches that point. I’m not particularly versed well in the Avengers lore, nor am I too familiar with Ultron save that he was created by Tony Stark to help or perhaps even replace the Avengers. I want to see what initiated his creation, in the movie. Everything continues from here- Civil War, the next Marvel films- it all continues from here. Damn, it is the best time to be a comic book fan. Age of Ultron hits this May.

Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends Movie Review

Posted in Action Adventure, Anime, Fan Service, Manga, Movies, My Stuff on September 29th, 2014 by thelonegamer


Rurouni Kenshin ends with style.

And here it is. Just a few weeks after Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno hit theaters in Manila, the third flick of Kenshin ‘Battousai’ Himura (played by the androgynous Takeru Sato) arrived, finishing the story of the Japanese swordsman with the cross-shaped scar. Of course, being a fan of the anime, I really didn’t buy into the ‘cliffhanger’ of Episode 2- Kaoru and Kenshin both thrown into storm-tossed seas? Meh. Kaoru missing? As if. This was all setup for the Final Battle you just knew was inevitable, and all that matters really was that it would kick ass like no other. Perhaps with that in mind, Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends pretty much throws in all the action into this sequel’s second half (or final third) in its two-hour running time.

Now, if you’re watching RKTLE, it is assumed you have watched at least the 2nd flick, if not both preceding movies. This means pretty much you are invested into director Keishi Otomo’s film adaptation (or are with someone who is). The movie eases into the flow right from the end moments of the prequel- really, you can watch the two movies back-to-back. Kenshin, who jumped into the roiling seas to rescue his lady love, Kaori Kamiya (Emi Takei), who was kicked off the decks of the Rengoku by the baddies. Unfortunately, he fails to find her, himself only barely surviving and getting washed up on a beach the morning after. Serendipitously, he is found by the one person in the world that matters- his Master and teacher in the Hiten Mitsurugi Style of Swordsmanship, Seijuro Hiko (Masaharu Fukuyama). After he awakens (three days later), Kenshin pleads with his master to teach him the Final Technique of Hiten Mitsurugi, in order to defeat Shishio.

What happens next is- well, little in the course of about an hour or so, as Kenshin spends what seems to be an eternity getting beat up by Seijuro’s tough love training. Meanwhile, the rest of the Kenshingumi (Sanosuke Sagara, Yahiko Myoujin, Megumi and the Aoiya Ninja) are at a loss with their two leads missing. Shishio and his minions are chilling on their giant battleship, shelling a town and extorting the Japanese government into declaring Kenshin culpable for his past crimes and sentencing the Rurouni to a public execution. Because, well, reasons. This never happened in the anime or manga (heck, why would Shishio bother? Oh well) but I guess it gives the many dozens of actors playing policemen more action to do. Heheh.

Once Kenshin finally emerges from his training sabbatical, things begin to pick up. Everyone converges for the final third, which gives way to a seemingly non-stop all-action final battle extravaganza which gladly makes all the wait worth it. The bloody brilliant confrontation between Shishio and… well, EVERYONE is freakin’ cool and caps off this flick with style.

There are, of course, many points that fans may grip with. With a finale that has so many characters, it is almost a given that there will be shortcuts. Whereas the 2nd movie snuck in two major battles with two of Shishio’s fearsome ‘Ten Swords’ (Juppongatana) henchmen, The Legend Ends is barely able to match that- aside from the given rematch between Kenshin and Sojiro Seta (which I found quite satisfying though Ryunosuke Kamiki eventually acting like he had a brain tumor was kinda a bit over), we only see about to other of the Ten Swords in action- blind swordsman Usui, who was a considerable baddie in the anime and manga is only given a couple of kinda-scenes, but at least he gets offed by the same guy.
Then there’s the fight between Sanosuke and Anji, which fills in at least the quota for Sano to show some funny action. But everyone else- blink and you’ll miss some of the Ten Swords being led away by the cops at the end.

But then, this is all about the Battle between Shishio and Kenshin, and this is the heart of the movie- it’s a long and knockdown, drag-out bloody to the hilt battle that starts off one-on-one then moves to two on one and finally FOUR on one before it boils down to the last moment. The most impressive parts are whenever Shishio swings his fiery sword though, with Kenshin’s signature Amakakeru being slightly expected, but the end was impressive nevertheless.

The cast is still in fine form, but I award the best performances to Tatsuya Fujiwara’s Shishio who just screams badassand stands up favorably to his manga and anime incarnations, down to the final, evil death laugh. The best villains don’t fade away, they BURN away.

That all said, I guess Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends is yet another third part of a trilogy that is sadly inferior to the second flick (Kyoto Inferno is the best-paced with the most consistent action). A bit of a top-heavy gargantuan, The Legend Ends impresses with a bombastic finale, but it was more of the enemy kicking ass and didn’t have enough of the good guy ‘Yes!’ moments that would have made this more crowd-pleasing. And No Kamatari in action, dammit!

Still, if you watched the first and second parts, this is a no-brainer watch, and I say you need to watch it in a theater full of like-minded Kenshin fans. Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends is now showing in Metro Manila theaters.